Kijiana Pene is an engaging young woman who's currently rehearsing the title role in Rep Theatre's latest production, Eugenia.
"I played the roles of Eugenia and Georgina last year at Rep Theatre in Inglewood where I was teaching. They are really demanding roles emotionally, very draining. Afterwards the rest of the cast went on to a party but all I could do was to go to bed and sleep."
Kijiana is the drama teacher at Wanganui Girls' College, a position she's held since the beginning of this year. Before her move to Whanganui she taught at Stratford High School.
"My dad's from the most northern island in Fiji and my mother is from Taranaki. I was brought up in Waitara.
"Drama was always a favourite subject at school so I did some drama papers at Victoria University where I was involved with some of the uni theatre productions, but I did my teaching degree at the University of Waikato.
"This is a really good play because it's a story that needs to be told so that people understand. When we did the play in Inglewood we had advice from a couple of transgender people which helped us. My lines in the play started to make sense to me then. After the play was over some grandparents thanked me for helping them to understand. They'd told their grandson that they didn't want anything to do with him when he told them he was gay but having learnt more about gay orientation they felt that they'd like to get in touch with him. They'd become more accepting of him. This play does need to be seen by all ages."
Dennis Welch in the Listener said of Eugenia " ... a major work: exciting, challenging, rich in both tragedy and comedy ... a triumph."
This play promises to be a powerful theatre experience.